Justice40 Initiative Gaining Momentum as 21 Environmental Justice Hub Leaders from 10 States Convene for Training Institute

Dr. Beverly Wright of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice and Dr. Robert D. Bullard of the Bullard Center for Environmental and Climate Justice at Texas Southern University Continue Collaboration to Implement the Justice40 Initiative

​​​​​​​FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 16, 2023

Ginger LeBlanc | gingerl@dscej.org
Briana Augustus | briana.augustus@tsu.edu
NEW ORLEANS, LA – In the coming weeks, Louisiana and Texas are where environmental justice communities will converge to participate in education and research skills training provided by the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice (DSCEJ), led by Dr. Beverly Wright and the Bullard Center for Environmental and Climate Justice at Texas Southern University, led by Dr. Robert D. Bullard.

Recently, DSCEJ and the Bullard Center organized 21 Regional Hubs in 10 U.S. states that will be managed by leaders of community-based organizations. Both organizations will continue their collaborative work on the equitable implementation of Justice40 as they convene leaders of the Justice40 Regional Hubs in New Orleans and Houston for education and research skills training.

The first 2-day Communiversity training for Regional Hub Leaders will take place February 22 – 24, 2023 in New Orleans, Louisiana at the NOPSI Hotel. The convening will help bolster the capacity of community-based organizations to secure funding for environmental justice projects in their communities. The Communiversity model can help to create a collaborative learning environment that brings together academic researchers, community-based organizations, and residents to address environmental issues in a holistic and equitable way,

“The goal of this training is to empower our hub leaders to pursue and advocate for federal dollars that can improve environmental conditions and address climate risks in their communities. For over 30 years, we’ve witnessed projects and funding intended to benefit our communities never reach them. Our Justice40 work has been designed with that history in mind so that our community-based organizations can advocate with authority, equipped with the tools necessary to successfully secure Justice40-mandated funding and resources that will have a lasting impact on their communities.” said Dr. Beverly Wright, Founder & Executive Director of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice.

On March 20-22 on the campus of Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas, leaders will be the first to test the new HBCU Climate and Environmental Justice Screening Tool (HCEJST) that was created to show the disparities in neighborhoods after the Climate & Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST) created by the federal government left out race. Leaders will learn how to use the tool and will be responsible for teaching other organizations in their respective communities how to use the tool as well.
The Justice40 Initiative, announced 2 years ago, is a part of President Biden’s Executive Order, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, creating a government-wide initiative with the goal of delivering 40 percent of the overall benefits of relevant federal investments to disadvantaged communities and tracks performance toward that goal through the establishment of an Environmental Justice Scorecard.

“To reverse years of environmental racism in our communities, we must make sure that those hit hardest by environmental and economic neglect worsened by the climate crisis have the resources and infrastructure investments necessary to address years of pollution and sickness for its residents,” said Dr. Robert Bullard, founding director of the Bullard Center for Environmental and Climate Justice. “Our supplemental screening tools will address systemic environmental racism head on and ensure communities of color are not left out once again. By working together, we can empower communities to hold government officials and policy makers accountable to the people they serve.”

The growing list of Justice40 Hub Leaders are:

  • Susanna Almanza of People Organized in Defense of Earth and Her Resources (PODER) in Austin, TX;
  • Rev. Calvin Avant of Unity in the Family Ministry (UFM) in Pensacola, FL;
  • William Barber, III of Rural Beacon Initiative, LLC of Durham, North Carolina;
  • Rev. James Caldwell of Coalition of Community Organizations (COCO) in Houston, TX;
  • Katherine Egland of Education, Economics, Environmental, Climate and Health Organization (EEECHO) in Gulfport, MS;
  • Rashida Ferdinand of Sankofa in New Orleans, LA;
  • Dawn Hebert of the East New Orleans Neighborhood Advisory Commission in New Orleans, LA;
  • Dr. Nataki Jelks of West Atlanta Watershed Association (WAWA) in Atlanta, GA;
  • Darren Leach of Genesis Church in Columbus, MS;
  • Paulina Lopez of Duwamish River Community Coalition (DRCC) in Seattle, WA;
  • Carolyn Moseley of Eastwick United CDC in Philadelphia, PA;
  • Bridgette Murray of Achieving Community Tasks Successfully (ACTS) in Houston, TX;
  • ​​Għanja O’Flaherty of North Carolina Environmental Justice Network in Rocky Mount, NC;
  • Juan Parras of Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (TEJAS) in Houston, TX;
  • Robert Taylor of Concerned Citizens of St. John (CCSJ) in St. John the Baptist Parish, LA;
  • Angel Torres of Organization for Human Rights and Democracy (OHRD) in Atlanta, GA;
  • Darilyn Turner of Zion Travelers’ Cooperative Center in New Orleans, LA;
  • Debra Walker of Sunnyside Community Redevelopment Organization (SCRO) in Houston, TX;
  • Donele Wilkins of Detroit Green Door Initiative in Detroit, MI;
  • Huey Wilson of Northeast Houston Redevelopment Council (NEHRC) in Houston, Texas; and
  • Joe Womack of Clean, Healthy, Educated, Safe & Sustainable Community (CHESS) in Mobile, AL.

About the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice

Families in the Gulf Coast deserve to live in communities that are free from deadly air and are more resilient to climate change and extreme weather. The Deep South Center for Environmental Justice (DSCEJ) works to empower and engage communities to put environmental justice and equity at the center of all climate action. Led by environmental justice scholar and advocate, author, civic leader and professor of Sociology Dr. Beverly L. Wright, the DSCEJ uses research, education, and community and student engagement to advocate for policy change, lead health and safety training for environmental careers, develop social and emotional community wellness programs, and create new and environmentally healthy opportunities for the residents of communities disproportionately impacted by historic environmental injustice.

About the Bullard Center for Environmental and Climate Justice
The Robert D. Bullard Center for Environmental and Climate Justice at Texas Southern University was launched to address longstanding issues of systemic inequality and structural racism that cause disproportionate pain, suffering and death in Black and other people of color communities. Texas Southern University is a student-centered comprehensive doctoral university committed to ensuring equality, offering innovative programs that are responsive to its urban setting, and transforming diverse students into lifelong learners, engaged citizens, and creative leaders in their local, national, and global communities.